Drug Policy

Many Girls and Boys, Lots of Cups

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During the last decade, with encouragement (and financial assistance) from the federal government, the share of school districts that randomly test students for drugs has nearly tripled, from about 5 percent to 14 percent. According to the Supreme Court, such testing is constitutional as a condition for participating in sports and other extracurricular activities, and the logic of these rulings suggests it would also be constitutional if imposed on the entire student body. But is it effective? A new Education Department report (PDF) supplies an answer: not very.

That conclusion is based on a study in which 36 high schools were randomly assigned to a "treatment" group, which meant they began testing students during the 2007-08 school year, or to a "control" group, which meant they delayed drug testing until after the study was completed in the spring of 2008. For advocates of testing, the most impressive finding is that 16 percent of students subject to spot urine checks, when surveyed in 2008, reported using drugs in the previous month, compared to 22 percent of students participating in the same activities at schools that did not have drug testing. Some of this difference may be due to a reduced willingness of students whose urine is under surveillance to be candid about their drug use. In any case, the difference is only six percentage points, although it sounds more impressive if you call it, as supporters of testing surely will, a 27 percent decline in drug use. They also can cite this study as evidence that drug testing does not discourage participation in extracurricular activities.

But here are some other things this study did not find:

Are students who are subject to MRSDT [mandatory random student drug testing] less likely to report that they will use illicit substances in the future than comparable students in high schools without MRSDT?

No, 34 percent of students subject to MRSDT reported that they "definitely will" or "probably will" use substances in the next 12 months, compared with 33 percent of comparable students in schools without MRSDT.

Do students who are subject to MRSDT report different perceptions of the consequences of substance use than comparable students in high schools without MRSDT?

No, on two measures of students' perceptions of the positive and negative consequences of using substances, students subject to MRSDT did not report having different perceptions of the consequences of substance use relative to comparable students in high schools without MRSDT….

Does the MRSDT program have spillover effects on the substance use or other outcomes of students who are not covered by the MRSDT policies?

No, the MRSDT program had no spillover effects. For example, 36 percent of students not covered by the MRSDT policy in treatment schools and 36 percent of comparable students in control schools reported using a substance in the past 30 days.

Does the MRSDT program affect the number of disciplinary incidents reported by schools?

No, the MRSDT program had no impact on school-reported disciplinary incidents. For example, treatment schools reported an average of five instances per 1,000 students of distribution, possession, or use of illegal drugs compared with four such instances in control schools.

Here are the conclusions I draw from this evidence:

1. Teenagers, like adults, are willing to trade their urine for things they value.

2. The threat of losing that benefit deters them, to some extent, from using drugs.

3. That does not mean they have suddenly seen the light about the virtues of a drug-free life, as shown by the fact that they are no more likely to take a negative view of drugs and no less likely to plan on using drugs in the future.

4. Not surprisingly, the plainly goal-oriented abstinence of students participating in extracurricular activities has no modeling effect on other students, who don't see anything to gain from keeping drug metabolites out of their urine.

Most important, there is no evidence that the measured reduction in drug use among students subject to testing has prevented any real-world problems (such as "disciplinary incidents"). If all that testing accomplishes is that 6 percent of football players or glee club members start smoking pot less often, the payoff hardly seems worth the cost in terms of money, effort, and indignity. Worse, these programs train students to go along with the government's arbitrary requirements, sacrifice their privacy on the slightest pretext, and keep their reservations to themselves while secretly maintaining politically incorrect attitudes. These are not the habits of a free society.

[via the Drug War Chronicle]

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  1. !!! Keep Dope Alive !!!

    Many of these kids just use other peoples urine.

    1. And the testers use other people’s money.

  2. Worse, these programs train students to go along with the government’s arbitrary requirements, sacrifice their privacy on the slightest pretext, and keep their reservations to themselves while secretly maintaining politically incorrect attitudes. These are not the habits of a free society.

    No, but those habits will be invaluable in our brave new world of government rationed health care.

    1. Who said we want a free society?

  3. Also, the odds of catching anyone but habitual users are astronomically low.

    1. trust me.

      Habitual users can merely beat these lame urine tests that are not supervised.

      1. by substituting the urine

        1. Or diluting, which requires no foreign substances or test time sleight-of-hand.

  4. No alt text?

    No high school footballer who turned down a three-way with two cheerleaders can say he passed up a greater opportunity.

    my humble caption suggestion: “Apple juice shooters!!!”

    1. no alt text necessary in light of the article title. Jeebus.

  5. Whether by design or or an unintended consequence the outcome is the same… Getting future citizens accustomed to increasingly intrusive violations of their freedoms… FTW

  6. Whether by design or or an unintended consequence the outcome is the same… Getting future citizens accustomed to increasingly intrusive violations of their freedoms… FTW

  7. If you taste my Billy’s piss he’s less likely to do drugs? Start sipping.

  8. “These are not the habits of a free society.” This is a sad article. When will this country get the drug infatuation monkey off its back?

  9. 1) I’m not in favor of drug testing.
    2) If you have to drug test you need to make sure that:
    a) it is really random
    b) punishment is swift and sure.
    c) so many people are involved it is very hard to game the system.

    When I was in the Marines in the late 80’s they had a crazy policy of drug testing. You could count on getting popped 2-3 times a year. If you ever came up positive you were booted from the service with a bad conduct discharge. The process for giving piss was very open and almost impossible to game.

    Like I said, I don’t think drug tests are a good thing. If it is going to be effective you have to get so intrusive into people’s lives that you end up losing more than you gain.

    1. How long did you have between being notified of a test and actually providing a sample? Given an hour or so, you can “game” any urine test using nothing but your body.

      1. Military tests are usually first thing in the morning. Not ideal.

        1. Hah yeah, “not ideal” to say the least. No way you’re passing on that first piss of the day, unless you’re actually clean.

          1. Like formation time. Not wake your stoner ass up, lose the wood, and fill this in front of me, time.

    2. I was in the Marine Reserves, we tested ‘randomly’ every october.

  10. They can have my urine once they pry my cold dead fingers from my gun.

  11. They can have my urine anytime they want. Open wide, twatwallets. And you don’t get a tarp. Tarps are for dilettantes.

    1. Are you actually Max Hardcore?

      1. Don’t you think if I were, that I’d be assfucking barely literate 18-year-olds on a boat rather than hanging out around here?

        1. There’s a man who’s got things figured out. I shudder to think about what he’s doing to his fellow inmates right now.

        2. No reason you can’t do both, SF.

          1. I refuse to be subpar in my posting or my assfucking. Both require my complete attention.

            That’s why I rarely post after 5pm EST.

            1. Is that when your sister gets home?

              1. Only child. I ate my twin sister in the womb.

        3. What, all the 18 year old boys turned you down?

          1. I couldn’t hear them answer for all the moaning that they were doing while you were tonguing their balls.

  12. the MRSDT program had no spillover effects

    So at least they’ve got the caps on tight.

  13. We don’t need to effect lifetime anti-drug attitude changes in these kids. That’s not the point. We just need to keep them off drugs during their confused adolescence so that when they grow up they can freely see that drug use isn’t cool. That’s harder to do if you’re used to using drugs from your adolescent years.

    1. Don’t be his porn.

    2. Why’d you retire the Dan T. name, idiot?

      Oh yes, and:

      An awkward silence followed for the next few seconds, and then Hanngush slowly raised a mechanical arm to speak.

      “Sir, while I would never suggest this otherwise, given the situation perhaps we should consider Pangar Nine? According to my charts, it is within our range and perhaps if we are allowed to dock there we could offer our cargo as a bribe in exchange for passage to a more, uh, suitable outpost?”

  14. I’m always shocked that parents seem to just accept this level of intrusion by their kids’ schools. I mean, I would never have required my kids to comply when they were in school, and not just because they would have flunked. To me, I’m being as cooperative as I am inlined to be simply by submitting to mandatory attendance. They don’t get any further concessions.

    1. Yeah good point. I’m not a parent, but I imagine I’d be a little creeped out if my kid’s school wanted to inspect his bodily fluids just so he could play baseball. Fuckers.

  15. Somewhat off-topic, but I continue to be amazed at how much better my coca tea is than caffeine. Whenever I have some, I’m alert and productive, no matter how little sleep I got the night before. And there are none of the unpleasant side effects that caffeine has, like the jitters and explosive shits.

    Fuck you, progressives, for making this wonderful stimulant illegal.

    1. I love me some top-shelf coffee, and coca tea won’t ever take its place for me.

      But I do like me a cup or two in the afternoon.

      Thanks, Reason, for alerting me to this delightful product!

    2. Yeah coca tea is nice. I’ve never had any interest in snorting powders, but there’s nothing wrong with soaking some leaves in a little hot water. Provides a nice counterbalance for an afternoon bowl of The Good too.

  16. “But is it effective? A new Education Department report (PDF) supplies an answer: not very.”

    Shhhhhh…..

  17. Ha! I like the headline.

  18. Urine tests are incredibly easy to beat. I’m an unrepentant pothead, and I’m 4 for 4 on my employment-related urine tests. You need:

    a) Water
    b) About an hour

    1. Agreed. When I was starting out I’d have to piss about once a month for three years. I’d add c)sugar bomb. I preferred the gas station cinnamon buns.

      1. Damn, once a month for three years. What a pain in the balls.

        1. Just annoying. I’d get a call at 7am telling me to pack for a week. I always had at least 3 hours to cram, usually a lot more.

    2. i’ve passed piss-tests whilst high, you’re absolutely correct. My samples could be considerd homeopathic for all the water I drank before them.

      1. Worst case scenario is a retest a few days later. I wholeheartedly support this strategy.

      2. Hah yeah, I’ve had collectors remark about how clear my “sample” is before. I just said “yeah I’ve done this before and had to wait before I could go, so I made sure that wouldn’t be a problem this time.”

        You can also go with a little B2 to get that nice neon yellow thing going. And yeah, like Sidd says, even if they bust your for dilution you’re looking at a re-test, not a fail.

    3. …which is why any employer who’s serious about drug testing has a manager or other company official escort you to the drug test place immediately after you’ve been told about the drug test.

      Or, they do follicle tests instead of urine.

      1. Most places just do pre-employment testing, plus maybe post-accident testing for worker’s comp reasons. Anything else becomes prohibitively expensive, especially if you start talking about hair tests and the like.

        But yeah, some of the more dickheaded employers will go to extremes because the testing industry has tricked them into believing made-up stats about “workplace productivity” and the like.

        1. There are also insurance savings and PR advantages to having an ostensibly drug-free workplace. My former employer did follicles for new hires and “chaperoned” urine tests for randoms and post-accidents.

          1. True; of course the insurance savings and PR advantages almost all tie back to the totally bunk stats released over 25 years ago by RTI on “worker productivity” as it relates to illicit drug use.

  19. Substitution works every time for every test if you follow some simple rules.

    1. True, and if you can’t pull it off then maybe you’re just too stupid to be employed. Maybe that’s the whole point of pre-employment piss testing.

      1. That’s exactly what is. Only the jobs that actually require sobriety do the randoms.

      2. I’ve actually heard that a few times — that a “drug test” is really more of an “IQ test”. To me that makes sense with coke, heroin, etc, which leave the body quickly.

        But it doesn’t take depravity or stupidity to walk around every day with detectable levels of THC metabolites in your urine. Although I would argue that failing to somehow mask the presence of those metabolites might require stupidity. Still, it should really be unnecessary.

        1. I agree that it’s unnecessary. It’s just the only rationale I can think of. Denying someone a job because they’re a pothead is pretty weak. Lucky for me nobody had dreamed this shit up yet back in my stoner days, cause no way I could’ve asked my mom to lend me her pee the way my 18 year old daughter asked me.

          1. Oh, that’s lovely. Assisting your daughter in committing fraud. In my experience, anyone who lies for you is probably lying to you as well, so what are you lying to your daughter about?

            1. There are very few states in which attempting to “cheat” a drug test is legally defined as fraud. And perhaps as a parent, she feels that denying her daughter gainful employment because of the presence of non-psychoactive metabolites in her system is the truly fraudulent stance. I, for one, would agree.

              1. she feels that denying her daughter gainful employment because of the presence of non-psychoactive metabolites in her system is the truly fraudulent stance

                Discrimination on the basis of race: freedom of association

                Discrimination on the basis of drug use: fraud

                Gotcha.

                1. It’s “a fraud”, in the colloquial sense, yes. As is discrimination based on race.

                  I’m not saying that private employers shouldn’t be legally able to set whatever guidelines and procedures they’d like. I just don’t have much respect for a lot of the guidelines currently (though decreasingly) popular, and don’t consider circumventing said guidelines to be an immoral act.

            2. Look, this area is a legal and ethical minefield, but in my judgment it was reasonable. My daughter is a self supporting adult who likes to smoke pot on her own time. We live in a state where this is not a crime, and in fact an adult can smoke a joint walking down the street. I don’t see how my daughter’s off duty pursuits render her unfit for a clerical job for which she is otherwise fully qualified. That I work at the same place and am well acquainted with the company culture, and that my job would be adversely affected if she fucked up were factors in the decision.

              All that aside, I find it ludicrous that a habit equivalent to having a few beers after work 2 or 3 times a week has any bearing on anything.

              Also, I don’t lie to my kids, never did.

              1. I don’t see how my daughter’s off duty pursuits render her unfit for a clerical job for which she is otherwise fully qualified.

                And if you who were her prospective employer, then that would be your decision.

        2. Even if you don’t know the tricks of the trade, the inability to quit toking for a couple weeks shows a lack of dedication and maturity.

          Not that I agree with tests for office jobs, but I wouldn’t hire someone who failed unless it’s a very high-skilled job.

          1. The problem with that , especially in low skilled jobs, is that the chance at a better paying job often arises unexpectedly, and the applicant has at best 3 days notice that they have to piss. The only way to be ready is to never use, not a choice I expect anyone to make just-in-case.

          2. One not-entirely-fallacious justification is, for any sort of job with access to the employer’s money, a person with a drug habit to finance is more likely to need immediate, large amounts of cash and is more likely to take irrational risks in getting it.

            1. a person with a drug habit to finance is more likely to need immediate, large amounts of cash and is more likely to take irrational risks in getting it.

              Citation needed.

              Marijuana is far and away the most commonly used illicit drug, and as such makes up the lion’s share of positive drug tests. It’s pretty ridiculous to argue that an employed pot smoker is going to resort to crime to “feed his habit”, given that a job at McDonald’s provides adequate income to stay high 24/7.

  20. Fantastic piece, Jacob. Fantastic.

  21. I know this is much like thinking of a clever retort I should have said at last night’s party, but here is what I think should be the proper response of an announcement of random drug testing of students participating in extracurricular activities:

    All students should sign a document that states:
    1. They will not submit to the testing unless probable cause can be shown that they are using drugs.
    2. If any student is suspended for refusing to take the drug test without the showing of probable cause, all students who signed the pledge will withdraw from all extracurricular activities until the suspended student is allowed to return.

    Respectfully, of course. Decorum must be maintained.

    1. Well that’s individualist.

      What if I’m a student who doesn’t do drugs and is involved with extracurricular activities because they look good on a college application, or in the case of sports, because I want to get an athletic scholarship? Am I supposed to sacrifice that because other students want to get high with impunity?

      Doesn’t take much to turn a libertarian into a collectivist, it seems.

      1. Sometimes we have to stay together or we will hang separately.

        I don’t know of any other way to fight the madness of what is going on in the schools today.

        And I would bet that if the football team all quit until the alleged offender was restored in his rights, things would get fixed pretty quick. Debate team, not so much.

        I do remember that at the beginning of my senior year back in the dark ages our head football coach announced than anyone who wasn’t willing to quit smoking and drinking needed to quit the team right now. Next day he had three seniors left on the team. Coach didn’t get a promotion that year–I think we went two and eight.

  22. It’s realy a career training program. In 20 years, the experience will help them as actors in a John Stagliano movie.

  23. In a way, it’s too bad they didn’t pull this shit back in my day, the late 80s – because it would have taught me (additional) lessons about government abuse that I didn’t learn until much later.

    If you have to drug test you need to make sure that:
    a) it is really random

    I strongly disagree. If they’re serious, it should be universal – anything less is just theater. Plus, it would piss off a lot more parents and maybe get them thinking about the direction this country is taking. Instead, making it “random” just encourages people to sweep the issue under the rug.

  24. This article reveal a cruel and controversial teen problem.About drug,depression and promiscuity and so on,why it’s rampant in the teen.In the case of myself ,I try to find my own way though it’s too hard to get.but I need an outlet to get out of my bad emotion.so….

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